How Cointelpro Works

How Cointelpro Works
by Susan Basko, Esq.

The other day, a true troll lawyer who is suing "half the people on the internet" posted a link to a cointelpro-created blog article that is supposed to cause people to think ill of me. The article, which is several years old, is a classic example of cointelpro.  In this age of the internet, cointelpro smear pieces have lasting power.

 The cointelpro smear piece against me emanates from early Occupy Los Angeles and keeps being revived by the cointelpro agents and their dupes. Before the OccupyLA camp started, there were planning meet-ups. Some of my family and friends were involved, and I gave some legal advice, such as to get porta-potties and that it is legal to sleep at night on the sidewalks in Los Angeles. After the OccupyLA camp got situated in the park by City Hall, it soon was infiltrated by paid agents.  Some of those agents formed a group that was supposedly more radical. This is a common technique to draw in the fringe elements and often, to entrap them. That supposed radical group was engaging in hardcore smear campaigns against many of the people who were doing the most positive work in running the camp, the media, and the finances.  I was quietly advising many of the people who were being smeared by this supposed radical group.  The supposed radical group had (and still has) a tumblr that is used to attack others, in typical cointelpro fashion.

Now watch how cointelpro works: One day, I was doing some trademark work and I noticed that 2 different people had applied for trademarks on the Occupy LA name.   One was an application by a person who was trying to "own" the OccupyLA name for himself as an organization and the other was trying to own the name for commercial products.   I thought it was important for the OccupyLA group to retain its own name and trademarks and not allow ownership of the name to be usurped by individuals looking to make a profit.

I emailed my findings about the trademark applications  to the editor of the OccupyLA website, for which I wrote many articles.  The editor asked me to put it in writing what could be done about the trademark applications and to list how much it would cost to deal with it.  I wrote him a simple explanation of the range of possibilities:  I could keep an eye on the situation and wait and see if the two trademark applications that were pending made any progress and report back to him as any changes took place, and this would cost nothing.  I could mount challenges to the two trademark applications by writing and filing letters and this would cost whatever the fee was for that, with my time donated.  The most aggressive tact would be to challenge the pending applications as well as to file trademark applications for the main real OccupyLA group, in the same categories that were in the pending applications.  The government filing fee on each category is $300.  So while I was willing to donate a good chunk of my time, this aggressive proposal would still cost a few thousand dollars.  Depending on the available budget, the group could choose the wait-and-see approach, the aggressive approach, or somewhere in between.

The editor of the OccupyLA site forwarded my emailed report to a few people, among them at least one of the cointelpro agents in the supposed radical group.  Soon, this person was creating a fantasy that I was greedy, that I was hoping to be paid "big money" that increased with each time he wrote the smear story.  First it was $1000, then $3000, then $10,000.  And the smears became outlandish.

When one is dealing with cointelpro agents, there is no dealing.  If you tell cointelpro agents that the thing they are saying is untrue, they simply create more lies.  I had been watching for  months as these same cointelpro agents worked hard to chase off the most productive people at OccupyLA. The victims of the cointelpro smear campaigns were concerned for their reputations, and rightly so.  I too, was concerned for my reputation. I knew the cointelpro agents who were working OccupyLA were fierce, highly trained at disinfo campaigns, at stopping productivity, and at causing rifts and divisions.

The same cointelpro tumblr and twitter account are still up and running and still maintained by obvious cointelpro agents. They still post links to their smear articles to try to harm the reputations of the people who helped productively with OccupyLA.

The reality is that I gave many hours to the people of OccupyLA and continue to give free legal advice and assistance to those who ask.  This happens behind the scenes.  The other reality is that while the camp was going, I was the one steering in many of the donations. Donations were money, food, water, tents, blankets, clothing.   I never asked anything of OccupyLA, but rather, offered to assist with the trademark situation and told what the costs would be.

The important thing to understand is that cointelpro agents weave their fantasies to scare off productive people, to create divisions, create confusion or fear, all to stop societal change from taking place.

Here is an interesting catch: Whenever I see this ludicrous cointelpro article claiming I somehow tried to make money by helping OccupyLA, I know that the person posting it is in touch with or working with the cointelpro agents.  Or the cointelpro agents see an ill-informed dupe and send them a link to their defamatory smear piece.   That's because any of the real people who actually helped with OccupyLA also had this same bunch write a smear piece on them.  Or many smear pieces.

Last I checked, new smear pieces were still being created by these same cointelpro operatives.   One of the agents often uses twitter to post a short, outlandish smear. I saw one where he posted saying a man I know was a rapist.  Just that.  A 140 character tweet with no further info, just labeling a very good, kind man a rapist.

There is little to nothing that can be done about cointelpro agents, other than to make people aware of what is going on, make them aware of the presence and work of the agents, and to gather the good, productive people into a safety net for each other.  Understanding the mechanisms of cointelpro and disinfo campaigns is important when trying to build a community or movement.  The powers that be very much want to control the people, the events, and the outcome.  Challenges to the status quo, challenges to have a better, happier, more fair society are frightening to those whose livelihood or luxury depend on quashing new ways of thinking and being.

So, when a person copies, quotes, or links to any of the cointelpro-created smear articles, this is a sure way to tell the person is either a cointelpro agent, a dupe, a fool, or just very naive and new to protest.

Barrett Brown's Plan to Overthrow the Government

Barrett Brown's Plan to Overthrow the Government
by Susan Basko

By now, you have probably heard that the U.S. government, on February 14, 2014, in the federal criminal case USA v Barrett Lancaster Brown, filed a sealed Opposition to Brown's Motion to Dismiss the first of three indictments against him and that in it, the U.S. alleged that Brown and Anonymous "secretly plotted the overthrow of the government."  At first glance, this sounds similar to people in the early 1960s afraid that young folks wearing bobby socks and dancing the Twist were plotting to overtake the nation with Communism.  At that time, those were serious concerns of quite a few people.  Today, there is serious concern that Barrett Brown may get prison time based on notions that seem just as far-fetched.

snippet of Docket in US v Barrett L Brown  
Why is the government filing sealed documents in a criminal case, which by the U.S. Constitution is supposed to be a process open to the public?  The docket, pictured in part above, shows that Brown's lawyers filed the Motion to Dismiss as Document 98.  Then there is a gap, with Documents 99 - 101 missing.  Those 3 documents are likely a motion by the government requesting to file an Opposition to Brown's Motion to Dismiss under seal, the Court Order giving the government the right to file that Opposition under seal, and the Opposition Reply itself.  In order to be able to file under seal, the government usually must state that the document contains information or allegations of crimes that are still under investigation.

Since the Opposition was filed under seal, we know of its contents only by the inferences that can be made and the quotes from it contained in Brown's Reply to the Government's Opposition, which can be read HERE.  Brown's Reply states that the government is alleging that Brown and Anonymous "secretly plotted the overthrow of the government." Since the document is filed under seal, this likely means the government is engaging in an active investigation into this alleged crime.  So, this is serious.

If you carefully read the law below, you will note that "overthrow of government" refers to that done by "force or violence," including by threats of violence against persons or property. If the government were able to prove that Brown or any member of Anonymous were advocating, publishing, or organizing to overthrow the government by force or violence, including by threats, then those who do so or who conspire to do so might be imprisoned for up to 20 years.  So, this allegation by the government is rather extreme, and not the ridiculous joke it seems at first glance.

The law that pertains to overthrow of government is
Whoever knowingly or willfully advocates, abets, advises, or teaches the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying the government of the United States or the government of any State, Territory, District or Possession thereof, or the government of any political subdivision therein, by force or violence, or by the assassination of any officer of any such government; or

Whoever, with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of any such government, prints, publishes, edits, issues, circulates, sells, distributes, or publicly displays any written or printed matter advocating, advising, or teaching the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence, or attempts to do so; or

Whoever organizes or helps or attempts to organize any society, group, or assembly of persons who teach, advocate, or encourage the overthrow or destruction of any such government by force or violence; or becomes or is a member of, or affiliates with, any such society, group, or assembly of persons, knowing the purposes thereof—

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction.

If two or more persons conspire to commit any offense named in this section, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction.

As used in this section, the terms “organizes” and “organize”, with respect to any society, group, or assembly of persons, include the recruiting of new members, the forming of new units, and the regrouping or expansion of existing clubs, classes, and other units of such society, group, or assembly of persons.

The law prohibits the overthrow of government by "force or violence."  "Violence" is defined under Federal penal code as:
The term “crime of violence” means—
(a) an offense that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another, or
(b) any other offense that is a felony and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense.  

Tweet in @BarrettBrownLOL timeline Sept 9 2012  
So, it is okay to advocate changing or overturning the government, just not by force or violence.  Now, let's take a look at the methods actually proposed by Barrett Brown.  Perusing Brown's Twitter timeline, this series of tweets (above) about the ICP is found.  The ICP is Insane Clown Posse.  In a move bordering on hilarious, the FBI recently declared the Insane Clown Posse to be a "gang." To be blunt, the ICP is a bunch of white trash fans of the ICP rap band.  They call themselves Juggaloes and paint their faces like clowns.  The females are called Juggalettes and dress like cheap whores. Sorry, there is no other adequate way to describe it. The Gathering of the Juggaloes is a yearly music fest, usually held at a very rural place in Southern Illinois, that involves drinking beer, sliding in mud, fighting, and listening to exceptionally crappy music.  If these folks go to one music fest a year, thank goodness it is the Gathering of their own kind.

Barrett Brown is clearly joking in these tweets.  The ICP members are no more capable of  "seizing Michigan" than they would be of using a fork properly.  These tweets are droll wit, portending an imaginary future when the ICP is a political force, rather than a musical farce.
Tweet in @BarrettBrownLOL timeline Sept 7, 2012 
Nearby on the Twitter timeline, there is this tweet, with hashtags that seem to be Brown calling #Anonymous to #revolution.  What is at the pastebin is shown below. It is a document obviously written by Barrett Brown, that he titles "Operation Pursuant."  It is an exhaustive listing of methods of communication and gathering, mostly via the internet.  This is a revolution of thought, to take place not in meeting halls, but on the internet.  NOWHERE DOES THE DOCUMENT EVEN HINT AT ANYTHING VIOLENT.  This is Brown's manifesto: that people should gather on the internet, discuss, research, and share their ideas and information.  If this is Brown's attempt to "overthrow the government," it is perfectly legal, totally Constitutional, perhaps even Jeffersonian.

Encyclopedia Dramatica and Doxbin: What are They?

Encyclopedia Dramatica and Doxbin: What are they?  

Encyclopedia Dramatica and Doxbin are two different, but interrelated, websites that sociopaths use to harm their victims. Posting another person's name or information onto either site is a crime under U.S. Cyberstalking law and many other laws. The US DOJ strongly hinted it will soon be prosecuting such websites in its strongly worded indictment in the Corey Turner case, which elaborated the wrongdoings of "Anonymous" including: "doxing," that is, publicly disclosing online a victim's personal identifying information, such as the victim's name, address, social security number, email addresses or accounts, and personal telephone numbers, with the object of, among other things, intimidating the victim or subjecting the victim to harassment." The US DOJ recently closed down several other extortion sites and closed down an overseas server used for obscenity, and charged those running the sites or servers with violations of CFAA, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. 

What is Encyclopedia Dramatica? Encyclopedia Dramatica is a website run by sociopaths for criminal purposes. Those using the site use it to stalk, harass, endanger, defame, coerce, extort, and seriously harm their victims. They do so by posting the victims' names and personal information, often along with defamatory materials or photos. The website contains shocking obscenity. It is illegal for anyone to post anyone else's name or information on such a site. It is a crime to connect any person's name or reputation with obscenity or pornography without their specific written permission. The site posts outlandish defamation and ridicule of its victims, most of whom seem to be good people who have run afoul of the rotten criminals who run and use the site. In other words, Encyclopedia Dramatica is bad people attacking good people and trying to ruin their lives or even have them killed. The site's underlying purposes of extortion, financial extortion, coercion, and harassment add another layer of serious crime.

 What kind of people use Encyclopedia Dramatica? As far as I have seen, the users are deranged sociopaths who find shocking obscenity acceptable and who are so deep into criminality that they think nothing of harming their innocent victims. They are people who think defaming and cyberstalking others is fun. They are deeply sick criminal-minded people. They are not people from one group. Some may be in the uglier sectors of Anonymous, the hacking group. Others are in Rustle League, an antisemitic online hate gang, or GNAA (Gay Niggers Association of America), a group of whites that try to pose racial hate against Blacks as being hip or fun. In other words, antisocial, hate-filled criminals. The site is used to extort, coerce, shame, humiliate and harass -- all of which are illegal under Cyberstalking and other laws.

At the sentencing of Andrew Auernheimer aka Weev, the racist, antisemitic computer hacker, the prosecutor told a pathetic story of how Weev used Encyclopedia Dramatica to destroy the lives of his victims.  The story was of a man begging to have his name and photos taken off the site, and  Weev demanding a high extortion payment. The story is pathetic, but it is more pathetic still that Weev has a fan club of groupies. More pathetic still is that the U.S. government has not yet closed down this extortion mill that has destroyed the lives and livelihoods of so many innocent victims.

 One example of an Encyclopedia Dramatica user is a woman who uses the names "T----- K--- and "T---- R-----" and uses the twitter handles @an----- and @T----. She lives in Arizona and claims to be a paralegal. I do not know this woman, nor she me, and we have had no interaction. She is a stalker who for months posted about the internet that I was "not a real lawyer." That, of course, is defamation per se. Then, she began posting links to something "about" me on Encyclopedia Dramatica. Posting anything about me onto such a website is in and of itself a crime. When she was sent Do Not Contact notices, she continued to post her cyberstalking harassment. This same woman posts shockingly obscene photos on her Twitter account. They are pictures of the sort that make normal people wince and turn away. (These same photos are on the Encyclopedia Dramatica site.) In a nutshell, this is an extremely dangerous, depraved cyberstalker. This woman's boyfriend is a well-known cyberstalker and troll, who has bragged many times about computer crimes, such as pirating software made by a well-known internet user, DOSing, and cyberstalking victims. What sort of paralegal is deeply involved in harming others on the internet, in depravity, obscenity, etc? (Her names and handles have been withheld because investigation is pending.)

 My Experience with Encyclopedia Dramatica and Doxbin: My own experience with Encyclopedia Dramatica is as one might expect in dealing with entrenched, organized criminals. They are involved in sickening obscenity and in lying about other people. They set out to harm other people. They have threatened to harm me, to destroy me online, and to kill me, in a highly detailed death threat. They have extorted me and demanded extortion money. They have posted defamation "about" me onto their obscene website and when asked to remove it, have ridiculed and said they were posting more defamation and lies. These are extremely bad people, morally bankrupt. I can name their names and have tons of evidence, but that is in the hands of the FBI and I will let law enforcement deal with these criminals.

 What Crimes are Involved? As a licensed attorney with much advanced education in Computer Crime law, my opinion is that posting anything about another person onto Encyclopedia Dramatica, posting any link to the materials on the site, posting or copying the obscene photos, and participating as an admin or running the server of the site are all crimes. It is also my opinion that anyone running, serving, linking to, or participating in the site can be held criminally liable for any crimes that happen to any of the victims, as conspirators. I think this also reflects the prosecution trends of the US DOJ at this time.

 Who Runs Encyclopedia Dramatica? That is not known to me. But you can see in the photo up top, Brian Zaiger of the Boston area has fairly recently claimed to be the "Global Administrator Encyclopedia Dramatica." Look what else he says he belongs to- the antisemitic cyberstalker gang Rustle League and the racist white group that mocks Blacks and calls itself GNAA or "Gay Niggers Association of America." He has a diversified portfolio of hate.

Please note that I have asked Brian Zaiger specifically to remove all mention of me from Encyclopedia Dramatica, and even explained that the posting my name on a site with repugnant obscenity is illegal. Brian Zaiger's reaction? Sadistic mockery, proclaiming his right to cyberstalk and defame others.

 What is Doxbin? Doxbin is a website that allows users to deposit the name and personal identifying information of victims for the purpose of opening the victims up to an array of crimes, including fraud, bank theft, identity theft, harassment, stalking, rape, assassination. The site encourages the users to post all material, no matter how criminal. The information is put onto the deep web/ tor, so that it is used by the criminals who inhabit that netherworld. Those running the site try to instill fear by telling victims they are being put on a "proscription list," where their names and information will be made specially available to murderers and thieves. Congratulate me - these psychopaths say they have put my name on such a list.

 What Crimes are Involved? Posting info of another person onto Doxbin is a crime of cyberstalking in and of itself. The people running Doxbin have also allegedly threatened people with death and harm and have also allegedly created a "proscription list" to encourage other criminals to specially victimize those on the list. As a licensed attorney with much advanced education in Computer Crime law, my opinion is that posting anything onto Doxbin is a crime and that using Doxbin to get information on others is a crime, as is running the site. It is also my opinion that any person who posts information onto Doxbin can be held criminally liable for any crime that happens to that person, as part of Conspiracy, as can those running the site. I think this also reflects the prosecution trends of the US DOJ at this time. 

What Else To Be Aware Of: The Encyclopedia Dramatic website is set up to download things onto the computers of visitors. The downloads begin automatically and almost surely are malware. That is why I have not included a link to the site. My advice to the curious: DO NOT GO THERE.

 EXTRA NOTE: How Did I Become A Target of these Hate Groups? The law enforcement people I speak with ask how I became a target of this malicious bunch. I became a target of the hate group Rustle League and its associates a year and three months ago, when I started giving help to a man who has mental illness, after he was arrested. The man had been a call-in guest a few times on the Vince in the Bay BlogtalkRadio show.  The show was inhabited by the immature and antisemitic Rustle League members. Led by their leaders Jaime Cochran (also known as Asshurtmacfags), who has appeared on television bragging about harming others with cyberstalking and who co-hosted the shows with Vince Tocce, and a malicious person who calls himself Shmoop, the group began to viciously attack me with shocking antisemitic slurs, slurs against the mentally ill man, attacks against my legal practice, etc. This turned into massive attacks against me by the group and its associates and followers.

 I have never met or spoken with any of those attacking me. I have had no dealings with them, other than being attacked by them. These are not people who have been harmed in any way whatever by me, they are simply evil people.

These Rustle League people engaged in a whole massive series of attacks against me, including posting lies accusing me of major crimes, stalking, death threats, a bomb threat, extortion, creating obscene and vulgar videos and pictures using my nice photos, vulgar and antisemitic impersonation Twitter accounts and  Facebook accounts, impersonation blogs, hacking accounts, illegally posting of personal information, theft, fraud, identity theft, terrorizing phone calls, constant barrages of denigrating Twitter posts aimed at me by hundreds of sock puppet and troll accounts, BlogTalk Radio shows where lies and hate smears against me were stated by guests or in the chat room, and on and on.

 The Rustle League is closely connected to Doxbin and Encyclopedia Dramatica and the death threats, extortion and defamation by these two sites is simply a continuation of the year and a half of disgusting hate crimes.

 The gist of the hate is antisemitic: that I am a Jew who helps "crazy" people. Ironically, I am Irish Catholic and yes, I do help those in need.

 I know this sounds a bit confusing. The actions of hate groups often do confound. These are people without morals, without decency, without normal standards of right and wrong, who have sunk totally into depravity and social sickness. I think people should be alarmed at this virulent strain of hate popping up at this juncture in history. Especially alarming are that this group has apologists who think of this type of hate as ironic, hip, fun, pretend, etc. Take my word for it as a victim, their hate is deadly.

Aaron Socio Update February 25, 2014

Aaron Socio Update February 25, 2014
by Susan Basko

Feb. 25, 2014.  Aaron Socio, whose real name is Corey Turner, had a federal indictment lodged against him on February 12, 2014.  This follows over a year of on-and-off federal complaints and a Missouri state arrest.  Aaron/ Corey's troubles stem from illness that crept up on him and put him into a manic state for many long months. The mania caused him to think and do many things he would not otherwise have done.  The federal indictment accuses Corey Turner of 3 counts: Interstate Communication to Injure the Person of Another, Cyberstalking, and Interference with Interstate Commerce by Extortion.  All these charges stem from weird emails and/or phone calls Mr. Turner was allegedly making to employees of Northrup Grumman, a defense contractor.

By way of disclaimer, let me state that I too, was one of the many recipients of odd emails from Aaron Socio/ Corey Turner; that I had a long phone call with him on November 21, 2012, that he recorded and disseminated widely; that he was arrested in a traffic stop the following day after the phone call, and that since then,  I have done what was needed to help protect public safety while also supporting Aaron/ Corey and his family. I advocated for Corey to get mental health care while incarcerated.  He did finally get mental health care through the Missouri prison system, and it worked wonderfully.  I am deeply grateful to the Judge who listened and did the right thing.  Corey's recovery was like day and night.  He is now very committed to remaining healthy for the rest of his life.  I have been in frequent contact with Corey and his family and friends.  I wish his family the return of their loved one, whom they eagerly await.

Before becoming ill,  Corey Turner was living in Florida and Georgia, with his lovely long-term girlfriend, had many good friends, and started several successful businesses.   Corey is now healthy, thinking clearly, and ready to go back home and rebuild his life.  But the federal prosecutors are raking him over the coals for things he did while mentally ill and that allegedly frightened a few people, but physically hurt no one.  Hopefully, some sort of deal will be struck that will recognize that being mentally ill is not a crime.

You can read the indictment below, if you wish. It cherry-picks statements to make Aaron Socio's actions seem much more sensationalistic than they were.  As a recipient of dozens of emails from him, I can state it was all mumbo-jumbo and more annoying than frightening, at least to me.  He held fast to a complex set of delusions, and had even written books and made videos about his newfound belief set.  He had invented a religion, as well as a new field of science, he said.  It was obvious, at least to me, that he needed health care.  He said he was in a hypomania that never ended, that was sugar-driven.  As it turned out, he was right, and once he was given a doctor and treatment, that mania subsided.

The interesting thing to me about the indictment is how it portrays Anonymous.  The portrayal seems accurate for certain sectors of Anonymous, but there are other sectors that are much more involved in do-gooder acts.  From the indictment:

"1. Since at least in or about 2008, up through and including at least in or about January 
2014, a group of hackers referring to themselves as "Anonymous" has been a loose 
confederation of computer hackers and others sharing, among other things, common interests, 
common slogans, common identifying signals, common tactics of harassment and intimidation 
and common methods of attacking their targets. During that time period, members of 
Anonymous have waged a deliberate campaign of online destruction, intimidation and 
criminality by denial-of-service attacks, publication of protected or confidential information and harassment of businesses, individuals and government entities in the United States and 
throughout the world. 

2. Such attacks involved, inter alia, (1) breaking into computer systems, deleting data and 
stealing confidential information, including encrypted and unencrypted sensitive personal 
information; (2) de-encrypting confidential information stolen from victims' computer systems, 
including encrypted passwords; (3) publicly disclosing stolen information on the Internet by 
posting it to certain websites known in the hacking community; (4) hacking into and/or hijacking 
victims' social media accounts such as Twitter and Facebook; (5) defacing websites; or (6) 
"doxing," that is, publicly disclosing online a victim's personal identifying information, such as 
the victim's name, address, social security number, email addresses or accounts, and personal 
telephone numbers, with the object of, among other things, intimidating the victim or subjecting the victim to harassment. "   

Ukraine Protest Support

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Basic Venue Safety
for festivals, Concerts, Shows, Protests, Parties

Basic Venue Safety
for Festivals, Concerts, Shows, Protests, Parties, and More
by Susan Basko

When you gather a large group of people for an event, your top most priority should be their safety.  Disasters happen very quickly and are almost always avoidable.  The conditions that cause a disaster are almost always the result of those running the event taking a shortcut, not thinking things through, being lazy, or being cheap.   By "disaster," we mean something that causes multiple deaths or injuries. In a venue disaster, the deaths will usually be from smoke/fire, trampling, or crushing.

The place where the event is being held is the venue.  The venue may be indoors or outdoors. Disasters happen at outdoor venues, too.  Different types of events have different purposes, but the safety factors on all of them are quite similar.   Here are some basics:

Capacity:  Every venue, indoors or out,  has a maximum legal capacity of how many people are to be allowed in.  Exceeding the capacity is extremely dangerous.  The capacity of an indoor venue may be stated as one number if standing and another number if seated.  If a venue is such that patrons are flowing in and out, then you must use counters and see how many are inside before letting more in.

At most venues, the legal capacity is posted on a sign on the wall.  If you make a habit of looking at these signs, you will see that most venues have a much lower legal capacity than you might expect.  The legal capacity is based on square feet, purpose, whether patrons will be standing or seated, and if seated, at chairs or at tables, number of exits, number of toilets, and other factors.  It is great for an event to draw a crowd, but if the crowd exceeds the capacity of the venue, it is dangerous.

Permits/ Inspections:  Almost every locale requires any venue to be inspected and licensed as a permanent venue or permitted as a special venue.  These permits and inspections go a  long way in providing for safety. Most locales will inspect the layout of the space, the exits, the smoke detectors and sprinklers, lighting, electricity, platforms and stages, structures, props and hangings, sanitation, and any food service.  Many locales have written laws, rules, or policies that spell these factors out in detail.  You should work with people who know the rules and follow them.  Buy the guidebooks and have your staff use them.

Layout:  The floor layout for an event should be done in advance to scale with a computer rendering.  It should be done according to the local laws.  By law,  there must be large amounts of space between two tables.  By law, there must be a very wide open space in front of and around any exit or pre-exit.  A pre-exit is the exit from a room to another space that is not the outdoors.  A venue may have 5 or  6 pre-exits from the event space to the outdoors.  Each pre-exit must be carefully planned and the space around it must be laid out properly.   At set-up time, the floor is measured and marked with chalk, so the layout matches the rendering.

Exits:  Disasters often happen because there are inadequate exits or exits have been blocked or locked. Even if a place has been inspected and licensed, if a manager or security guard gets it into their heads to lock exits, for their reasons of "safety," they can invalidate the license, invalidate the insurance, and endanger lives.  Never allow anyone to lock or block an exit.  If a venue has been licensed or permitted based on  a certain number of exits, if one of those exits is not functioning, at any time or for any reason, the entire venue becomes unsafe and usually also is invalidating its license and insurance and well as endangering lives.  If a venue needs to hire an extra set of people to stand by a door to make sure people do not sneak in, or whatever the concern is, then that is what must be done.  An exit cannot be locked or blocked for any reason.

Never allow any item to be placed in front of an exit. Items that some may be tempted to place in front of an exit include a ticket table, merchandise table or booth, autographs table, coat rack, etc.   Laws in most places require wide aisles or spaces between tables or between banks of chairs, and at least 10 feet of clearance in all directions at any exit.  Most places require lit "Exit" signs.  Venues should have emergency light systems that go on if the other lights fail, or in case of smoke or fire.

Exit Path:  The exit path should be designed so that each succeeding exit space is bigger and wider than the last.  This is equally important at an outdoor venue as indoors.  There was a terrible crushing disaster a few years ago at an outdoor festival where the exit gates led to a wide space that then led to a narrower tunnel.  Too many people got into the tunnel and people were crushed to death.  In an indoor venue, make sure the exit bath is not made narrower by lines to bathrooms, furniture, a snack bar, magazine racks, etc.  If the lights are out and the place is dark and filled with smoke, anyone walking or crawling to an exit should meet no obstacles.  Turn out the lights and try it.

Fire Hazards:  Disasters have been caused by such things as sound insulation that was not fireproof, use of pyrotechnics, decorations that were not flameproof, patrons using lighters to see, and other such things that, in hindsight, were easy to detect.  Absolutely any item that is used as a structure, decoration, prop, or furnishing in a venue should be flameproof or highly flame retardant.  Hold a lighter to it for 10 minutes and see if it burns.  Curtains, insulation, table cloths, upholstered chairs, decorations, etc. must all be flameproof.  Pyrotechnics or flame should never be used indoors and if outdoors, should only be run by licensed professionals in a space that has been inspected by a fire marshal.   Venues that bend these rules are the ones where a disaster is more likely.

Structures:  Collapse of stages or structures is sure to be disastrous.  Hire only a licensed, bonded, insured company and have the structures inspected by an outside source.  If a stage or structure appears to be top heavy, flimsy, off-balance, shaky, etc., it probably is.  Such situations may occur because those holding the event are trying to cut corners, save money, do things cheaply.  This is unacceptable.

Crushing: Crushing disasters happen when too many people get into one space at one time.  That's simple and logical, but preventing it is a fine art.  At outdoor venues with open lawn area, venues still often have the area just in front of the stage as a seating area, often with tickets. This is to prevent stage crush.

Even if an entire venue has seating, there can be crush if open seating, first-come, first in is used.  This is sometimes called "festival seating," a term that makes no sense, since the audience at a festival does not sit, but walks around.   This type of ticketing has been outlawed in some places.  It is much safer to assign tickets to seats.

Rowdy Patrons:  Patrons who are intoxicated or agitated can present a danger, obviously.  The usual techniques of screening at the entry and a good security force work well to prevent fights.  However, rowdy people are also the ones likely to cause a panic that leads to a rush to the exits.  A rush to an exit can happen quickly.  Security should be trained to isolate and contain any incident, so it does not result in a rush of people, with danger of a crush.  Making sure the venue is laid out properly and that it is not over capacity also helps avoid crush or rush.

Valentines Day - free cards to download

Valentines Day - free cards to download
by Sue Basko

Here are some free Valentines Day cards you can email to your friends, post on facebook, or whatever. I designed these cards. You can grab them off the page or click and download.  Happy Valentines Day!
(note: These don't really have the green border on them. That is just on the website.) 

NATO3: What Mo and Gloves Did Wrong

NATO3: What Mo and Gloves Did Wrong
by Susan Basko
February 2, 2014

 What did Chicago police officers Mo (Mehmet Uygun) and Gloves (Nadia Chikko) do wrong? They created a supposed terrorism crime, rather than simply watching to see if one happened.  Entrapment as a legal defense is nearly impossible due to legal technicalities.  Entrapment as a factual reality is far more common, especially in terrorism charges.  

A year and eight months ago, the NATO summit was held in Chicago.  Large protests were planned.  A huge amount of federal money was being pumped into the City for security and safety.  Three young men who came to Chicago from Florida to protest were set up by two undercover Chicago police officers, who nicknamed themselves Mo and Gloves.  Mo and Gloves made themselves part of the scene at the apartment where the protesters were staying.  Mo and Gloves brought up the idea of making molotov cocktails, then provided bottles, rags, and gas. Mo and Gloves  then had the place raided and the three young men were arrested and charged under the Illinois Terrorism law, a ridiculously vague law under which almost anything could be labeled terrorism.  

Brian Jacob Church, Brent Betterly, and Jared Chase are now on trial in Chicago.  Kevin Gosztola is providing excellent coverage live tweeting from the courtroom at @KGosztola. It's the first time the Illinois terrorism law is being used.  If real terrorism had taken place, the Feds would be running this case.  Hopefully, the jurors will be smart enough to see that the Illinois terrorism law itself calls for jury nullification.  The jurors may also see that the criminal mens rea was not provided by the three young men, who seem to have been mainly interested in partying, but by Mo and Gloves, the undercover police.  

As a member of the public and as a protest planner, I do want police to watch for signs of impending mass violence, but I do not want them to create, inspire, or participate in such violence.  

Lest any smarty pants start saying I don't know what I am talking about, I had a whole lot at stake in that Chicago NATO protest.  I was the one whose name was on the permit application for the main protest of Sunday, May 20, 2012.  I had reserved the day months in advance, when both G8 and NATO were supposed to come to Chicago.  I was planning a First Amendment event for independent media from across the nation.  The big main protest was planned for Saturday, May 19, 2012.  When the G8 was suddenly moved to Camp David, that left the May 19 protest date less meaningful because the objects of the protest would not be present, and City rules made it too late to apply for another permit in time.  The City officials though they'd effectively blocked a big protest, when I pulled a rabbit out of my ass.  I offered to share my long-pending May 20 permit with the main protest coalition.  This set off a series of complex negotiations and court hearings to get the protest within sight and sound of the NATO summit location.   I then joined with others on the East Coast in planning a protest for May 19 in Frederick, Maryland, by Camp David, where the G8 summit would take place.  There would be a protest in both locations, as there should have been. 

Just as a side note, the big May 20 NATO Chicago protest was not planned by Occupy Chicago.  While the Chicago Occupiers were certainly welcome to participate and were in the coalition, the group was a very minor player.  The protest was planned by large, known, long-standing groups with good track records for running peaceful protests.  It was a coalition of peace groups, economic justice groups, veterans, churches, unions, legal organizations, and others.  The unions footed the bill for very expensive insurance required by the city, porta-potties, and a myriad of other expenses.  Running a big protest legally as an event is expensive.   Yes, protesters can take to the streets and incur no expense, but they may also be chased off by police. The coalition desired the May 20 protest to be peaceful, safe, legal, permitted, and family-friendly.  

With my name on the permit application,  I was damn concerned that the May 20 protest be peaceful. I had visions of ending out like the 1968 Chicago Conspiracy Seven, on trial with people whom they'd never met, for conspiring to plan a riot.   I did not want any property damage or personal injury.  I run a blog on how to plan peaceful protest and featured the NATO and G8 protests on it.  I had people from all over the world contacting me for information on the protests. I was helping journalists get official press passes.   I was connecting protesters nationwide to the free buses being offered by a Nurses group.  I was answering queries about where to stay and steering people to good hostels.  I was taking flack and had people blaming me for "my" protest.   I had news reporters contacting me as a source for their stories.  I did not dish them the stories of fear and riot porn they were looking for, but instead, told them about the peaceful, family-friendly protests being carefully planned. An organized, intelligent populace is a force taken seriously, but scary sells.

I also had a few people sending emails warning about violence they said would occur at the protest.    One was a high school kid far away who seemed to be civic-minded.  Another was eerie and seemed like a possible real warning.  So yes, I was concerned.  I wanted the police, FBI, NSA, and whoever else to watch, keep an eye out.  I don't think anyone fair would have wanted the police to be entrapping kids coming to town.  But that is what happened.

Brian Jacob Church, Brent Betterly, and Jared Chase arrived by car in Chicago. They were stopped by police in Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood, in a video that soon became famous on youtube.  The cop's statement became a refrain in a protest the next day, and has been repeated at the trial. "1968, you know what they said? Billy club to the back of the head!"  Straight up, that particular protest was one of the funniest things I have ever seen: a group of young kids moving quickly around Chicago's south side, covering many miles at a marathon-racing pace, using diversion tactics, scattering and regrouping, stopping to dance to music that must have been only in their earbuds, tossing trash cans and sneaking down gangways, jumping turnstiles at the el.  They caused no real damage and used a whole lot of energy, with their main message being "We're here!" 

Officers Nadia Chikko and Officer Mehmet Uygun infiltrated the apartment where Church, Betterly, and Chase were staying with a group of about 15 people total.  As Gloves and Mo, the two infiltrators introduced the idea of making bottle bombs, and provided the materials.   From what is known about the men, it seems likely they were being polite, since the undercover duo was their source of free beer.  There is no evidence of the three young men planning or making any bombs on their own.  It sounds like their participation was minimal and meant to keep the beer flowing.

Update February 13, 2014: After deliberating, the Jury found all 3 men guilty of possession of an incendiary device with knowledge that someone else would use it.  This is a felony that has a sentence of 4 to 30 years in prison.  They were each also found guilty of mob action, which is a misdemeanor.  

At the ongoing trial, the prosecution has introduced evidence that a gps monitor attached to the car the men were driving shows that the men drove within three blocks of Obama Headquarters. This is supposed to be proof that they were planning to bomb the headquarters.  The headquarters is in Prudential Plaza. If you know Chicago, you know that a car would come within 3 blocks of the HQ by going to Millennium Park, driving on Michigan Avenue, Lake Shore Drive, or State Street, or going to any of thousands of tourist attractions, bars, or restaurants.  

The prosecution has also presented evidence that the three men arrived in Chicago with a guitar case filled with things like a bow and arrows, handcuffs, and some martial arts stuff.  To me, these seem like typical things that 20-something pot heads from Florida are likely to consider entertainment.  Peruse homemade youtube videos for proof of this.  There are countless videos of young Floridians shooting things with automatic weapons, blowing things up, twirling martial arts gizmos, jumping off things, and in general, having fun being stupid. 

Okay, so as the person whose name was on the permit for the main protest, and as a person who only wants peaceful protest, I do not want this farce ongoing.  These three young men should not be facing more prison time.  They have been in the horrifying Cook County Jail for one year and eight months.   Creating crime is not what I want the police to do.  I want police to watch for crime, not to participate and create crime.  

By creating crime related to protest, the police are interfering with and chilling First Amendment rights.  

After the prosecution presents its case, the defense has the chance to ask for a directed verdict.  This means the Judge declares the defendants are Not Guilty, because no jury could legally find otherwise. I am looking for a Directed Verdict in this case.  Enough is enough.

Human Rights Defenders Risks

 Human Rights Defenders Risks
by Susan Basko

I was recently asked to assist in an international Consultation of Human Rights Defenders. In the consultation, we were making recommendations for the protection of people who are seen as Human Rights Defenders. I was asked to participate in the consultation because I actively defend the Human Rights of association, assembly, protest, speech, press, media, and technological use of media (such as live streaming, wifi, etc). The consultation was conducted by ODIHR (Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights) of OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe). There are 57 OSCE participating nations, and the U.S. is one of them. The Recommendations will be published in 2014. I have been invited to assist OSCE ODIHR with several major activities over the past couple years, based on my assistance to protest planners and media activists in the US. and worldwide. I distributed the consultation form to many others in the U.S.
Once the Recommendations have been compiled, they will reflect trends of risks that are faced by those who defend Human Rights. The OSCE has 57 participating States from Europe, Central Asia and North America: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Holy See, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, fYR Macedonia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, and Uzbekistan.

BELOW I AM POSTING MY REPLIES TO THE QUESTIONS. The compiled Recommendations from the 57 nations will be available some time in 2014. I could have spent my entire reply on the shocking hate launched at me by disturbed sociopaths on twitter, but decided those sort of attacks by people with that type of social/ mental disorder are likely to be covered by others.

I feel greatly honored to be invited to assist in improving society within the 57 nations. My experiences with OSCE over the past two years have been meaningful and important. There is a great connectedness and commonality nation to nation between those of us protecting Human Rights. There is an energy of truth and goodness that can be felt when these people gather.

Question 1: Risks, threats and challenges
Which are the specific risks, threats and challenges you (or your organization) face as a result of your human rights work? 

Please provide a brief summary of the specific risks, threats and challenges (e.g. physical and verbal attacks and threats, legal persecution and harassment, restrictive NGO legislation, restrictions to freedom of expression, assembly and association etc.) you or your organization experiences and you consider should ideally be addressed in the OSCE/ODIHR Recommendation. If available, please also provide concrete examples of incidents or documented cases of abuses you/your organization faced. Please do not exceed the given word limit. For further details about specific incidents or cases you may want to include references to published documents or materials if available.

In your response, please also include if you or others belong to a group of human rights defenders that is at particular risk and whether you see specific gender-related challenges in relation to your work and the risks and obstacles you face.

Summary: Description of main risks, threats and challenges you/your organization face/s [MAXIMUM 700 WORDS] 
(e.g. physical and verbal attacks and threats; lack of effective remedies and impunity; legal persecution and harassment, criminalization, defamation campaigns; restrictive NGO legislation, obstacles in receipt of funding, burdensome administrative requirements and informal pressure; restrictions to freedom of expression, assembly and association; surveillance and undue interferences in private life; restrictions on freedom of movement and access to carry out human rights monitoring and reporting; lack of opportunity for participation in public affairs; impediments to access and communicate with international bodies and reprisals; etc.): 

Answering on behalf of self as lawyer and many organizations and individuals to whom I give assistance:

1) Activists are having Child pornography emailed to them in tricky ways, to set them up for legal troubles and prosecution. It is unknown who is doing this, probably individuals outside the government. Govt needs to be aware of this practice and beware of prosecuting. There is one known prosecution at this time of media activist in North Carolina.

2) The U.S. government is sending National Security Letters to activists and freezing assets. The NSLs state that the person or organization or someone else is under investigation, cooperation is demanded, and not even the letter can be revealed. I am not allowed to give details, but I am aware of several of these that have had the effect of stopping participation.

3) The U.S. government and its contractors are using Twitter personas to stalk, harass, belittle and demean others. This is obvious to regular twitter users and has a chilling effect.

4) U.S. government is prosecuting journalist Barrett Brown for posting a link online to materials that were hacked. Raises dangerous practice of prosecuting people for posting links and puts HUGE damper on press freedom and communication freedom. This is a giant issue and entire US and world should be in opposition to this prosecution. Brown was writing about US govt using private companies for surveillance and linked to online info about the companies. Indictment has about 12 counts for one link with potential of decades in prison.

Specific examples of incidents and documented abuses (please add references to published materials as may be required) [MAXIMUM 400 WORDS]: 

1) Activists being emailed child pornography to set them up for prosecution:
Happened to Luke Rudkowski, Dan Johnson, Stewart Rhodes, and about 12 other people that I am aware of as a lawyer. There is one known federal prosecution based on possession of a Child porn image, of a man who is a media activist. Case is federal and in Middle District of North Carolina, but I am not at liberty to write the man’s name yet, but it is a fed case on

Info and Video about Dan Johnson et al:

Info on Luke Rudkowski:

2) National Security Letters: By law, cannot give details. But I am aware:

3) Persona Mgmt:

4) Barrett Brown prosecuted for posting a link:

Question 2: Recommendations
Based on the protection gaps and needs identified above: What measures should OSCE participating States take in order to strengthen the protection of human rights defenders and guarantee an enabling environment conducive of their work, both domestically as well as across the region?

If relevant specify by which state actors (e.g. government, regional and local authorities, public officials) the measure(s) should be taken. Also include: (a) what specific mechanisms and procedures participating States should put in place domestically to guarantee the protection of human rights defenders (recommendations concerning domestic processes/mechanisms for implementation); and (b) what participating States should do to support the protection of human rights defenders and promote an enabling environment in third countries (recommendations concerning protection of human rights defenders abroad). 

Measures participating States should take in order to strengthen the protection of human rights defenders and guarantee an enabling environment conducive to their work, including recommendations concerning (a) domestic processes/mechanisms for implementation; and (b) protection of human rights defenders abroad. 

1) Governments and people and organizations should be made aware of this new practice of tricking people into downloading Child pornography images onto their computers in order to set them up for later legal troubles. Some of the images are being sent embedded in pdf files. Governments should set up a specific and obvious protocol for anyone to whom this has happened. Awareness, education, training.

2) The U.S. practice of sending National Security Letters in what appears to be a misuse of their purpose should be addressed. The NSLs are supposed to be used for important anti-terrorism purposes and are now being used to thwart protesters, media, etc. Awareness, education, training, legal challenges.

3) Practice of using social media for COINTELPRO and harassment of activists should be forbidden.

4) Governments should be barred from prosecuting the use of links/ hyperlinks by anyone online, including activists, journalists, independent media, researchers, or ANYONE. Links should not be treated as a wrongdoing or crime in any way.

Ag3nt47 Home for Christmas

Ag3nt47 with friend

Ag3nt47 Headed Home for Christmas
by Susan Basko

Update: December 24, 2013: Larry Patterson, Ag3nt47, arrived last night in California, home in time for Christmas with his family.

December 23, 2013. Today, Larry Patterson, aka Ag3nt47, an alleged hacker from Tracy, California, was freed from federal custody in New Jersey. He was freed on signature, pending the resolution of charges. However, at this time, there are no charges pending and there is no indictment.  All there is is a vague complaint by an FBI agent.

Ag3nt47 was apparently a bored young man living at home with his mom.  He created a dashing online persona for himself as a "hacker god," a heavy drinker, and prone to violence. As it turned out, all of that was apparently false, created for swagger and internet sex purposes.  Bragging about crime can get you in a whole lot of trouble, as Ag3nt47's saga will illustrate.  Ag3nt47 was also widely known as someone who harassed others, including me.  I had him blocked on Twitter, but when the time came to help him, all that seemed small in comparison to his genuine need.

Ag3nt47 was in some sort of e-relationship with @TruthIzSexy, said to be Shona Sweeney of the UK.  In July 2013, a news report was published that Ag3nt47 was being investigated for computer hacks against Harvard University, MIT, and other universities.   After Mr. Patterson was arrested, a Twitter account named @s3rverexe, who claimed to be in an IRL relationship with @TruthIzSexy, bragged that he or she got @Ag3nt47 arrested by filing an FBI tipline complaint back in August.  Considering a news report in July told of the investigation, it seems likely the @s3rverexe complaint was additional information, but not the cause of 47's legal troubles.

CUSTODIAL INTERROGATION: On November 21, 2013, federal agents came with a search warrant to Ag3nt47's home in Tracy, California.  They quizzed Mr. Patterson, he says, without telling him his Miranda rights.  According to a court affidavit, during this FBI interview during the raid of his home, Mr. Patterson admitted hacking multiple computers.  The 5th Amendment prohibits custodial interrogation without a lawyer present, unless the interviewee has been told the Miranda rights.  If this precept has been violated, the information given during the interview may be suppressed as evidence. This means it will not be admissible as evidence.  However, courts often rule that even if a statement is suppressible, the fruits of the statements may not always be.  This means that evidence located because of the statements might be admissible, even if the statements are not.  

There is also a question of when custodial interrogation occurs during an FBI house raid.  The whole crux is whether the person felt free to leave or free to end the interview.  When the FBI raids a person's home, they tend to bring 10 or more agents armed with guns, and often dressed in protective clothing.  The subject and family are often awakened early in the morning, or surprised late at night.  Most people are terrified beyond belief during an FBI raid on their home, and rightly so.  To meet the letter of the law, in most cases, all the FBI agent interviewing the subject needs to do is tell the person their Miranda rights, the right to remain silent, to have a lawyer, etc.  Courts have picked apart whether a person is in custody in their own home if an FBI agent with a gun is standing  near the entryway to the room, if the interview takes place in a more relaxed or private area of the home, if others are within earshot, etc.  Courts look at the totality of the circumstances. 

However, and this is important to note - if your home is raided by the FBI, you have the right to remain silent, and it is highly recommended by all lawyers.  If there is something useful for you to communicate to the agents, you can do that later with a lawyer present.

According to the FBI agents, while being interviewed in his home during the raid, Mr. Patterson admitted hacking computers.  However, as it turns out, it appears likely that Mr. Patterson's admissions were part of a pattern of making false statements about himself, which is a not-uncommon phenomenon during interrogation, as well as on Twitter.

KIDNAPPED!:  The FBI did not have an arrest warrant.  In fact, there was no indictment and no charges had been filed.  As of this writing, there are still no charges or indictment.   The FBI agents were supposed to take Ag3nt47's computer, not him.  However, upon seeing how good-looking Larry Patterson is, the FBI agents decided to take  him, too.  With their kidnap victim in tow, they headed to the jail.  They couldn't just stash him in the evidence locker, so they convinced him to enter a Rule 20 Guilty plea on the nonexistent charges on the nonexistent indictment.  

While in jail in Sacramento, California, Larry Patterson signed the Rule 20 in his own signature.  Note that during all this, Mr. Patterson had serious medical issues and was taken away without his medicine, without proper meals or rest or care.  

A Rule 20 plea may be made by a defendant when he or she is arrested on a federal complaint in a District other than the one in which the complaint is pending.  The defendant agrees to plead guilty in exchange for not being moved to the other district.  This stay-near-home maneuver is usually short lived, as the defendant is sentenced and taken to prison, often far away in a different state.  A Rule 20 is not a plea deal with a proposed sentence, but is a blank check.  In Larry's case, since there were not charges or indictment, he was handing the prosecutors carte blanche to indict him on whatever.     

#OP47Home: That's the point at which #Op47Home formed.  The #Op47Home team was Larry's friend Mami,  who is a true friend to go through so much hassle to free him;  Joseph Camp aka JoJo, a former federal prisoner on computer charges, and me, a lawyer good at research.  First, we sent word to Larry that a Rule 20 plea on a nonexistent indictment was like signing a blank check. Larry's lawyer quickly rescinded the Rule 20 plea, which meant that Larry was immediately sent on his way to New Jersey to face the (nonexistent) charges.

That's where Joseph Camp, aka JoJo, came in.  JoJo was in federal custody on some computer charges for over 4 years, and he was transported place to place.  He knew that a trip that would normally take less than a day would, with the US Marshals running the transportation, take weeks to a month.  When a prisoner is taken away by the US Marshals, the Marshals do not apprise the family where their loved one is being taken.  The person is disappeared and resurfaces weeks later, far away.  The status of pretrial detainees in federal custody does not readily appear on any online database.  They are moved from facility to facility, in a zig-zag pattern across the nation, with multiple bus rides, flights, and short stays at various public and private jail facilities across the U.S.  Since Jojo knew the usual route and the likely options of jails where Ag3nt47 would be housed (if sleeping on a floor and being fed a bologna sandwich can be considered "housed"), he was able to track 47's movements.  Jojo was also able to find the commissary and phone information, so Mami and other friends could put money into the funds.  Without this, prisoners have no way to call their loved ones, and no way to purchase food or needed items.  Thanks to JoJo, we knew at all times where Ag3nt47 was located, and his loved ones had  phone contact with him, if sporadically.   

Phone Calls.  Family members are not allowed to call into a jail or prison. The prisoner must call out.  The person being called must have an account with whatever phone service is used by that particular facility.  Typical prices on phone calls from jails add up to about $20 or $30 for a 10 minute timed call.  The companies get these lucrative contracts with the government, and the prisoners and their families suffer greatly while the companies profit enormously.   Many families, of course, cannot afford to receive calls from their loved one who is in custody.   In many jails, the person being called must also be pre-approved, which can take time and be complicated. All calls are recorded and/ or listened to.  There is no privacy.   A few jails have email service, where the family may send short emails to the jail and the prisoner pays from a commissary fund to receive the email. There is no privacy there, either, as all emails are read by the prison staff.   

Prisoners being transported by the US Marshals may land at a jail where there is barely time for the family to put money into an account to receive a call.  If the prisoner is being moved the next day, they are not allowed to make a call the night before.  This can lead to prolonged times of no contact between the detainee and his or her loved ones.  

Families of federal detainees are not apprised of their loved one's legal status or their lawyer's contact information.  Since I know how to look all that up, I was able to provide #Op47Home with the needed information.  That was my first move -- putting Larry's support team in touch with his lawyer. 

Medical. As a lawyer,  I was tracking the legalities.  I found the US Marshals medical regulations, a detailed list of which medical needs they will meet for those in their custody.  The list is written to absolve the US Marshals of having to provide almost any care, even care that is simple and mandatory, such as daily prescriptions for important medical conditions.  The U.S. Marshals Service Prisoner Health Care Standards are abysmal.   Whatever their rules state, Mr. Patterson was not given his prescribed, much-needed medicine during his entire time in custody.  He was sent on a harrowing trip held in shackles and chains, fed poorly, degraded, and denied needed medical care.    The different facilities were made aware of his medical needs, and all the facilities neglected his much-needed care.

30 Days. There was also the factor that prisoners in federal custody are supposed to be freed if there is no indictment within 30 days.  Mr. Patterson's custody was particularly appalling because there were no charges, no indictment, and no arrest warrant.  He was a man confiscated along with his computer. By the time Larry arrived in New Jersey, he was closing in on the 30-day mark.  We in the #Op47Home Team were counting those days. 

Release Pending Resolution.   Mami got busy contacting Ag3nt47's new lawyer in New Jersey and making arrangements for Larry's release, if the court would grant it.  It seemed likely to be granted, perhaps even Constitutionally mandated.  But, getting a prisoner released  pending resolution of charges, even nonexistent charges, is not easy.  The prisoner must have someone reliable and responsible sign for their release.  The person signing must be close family or someone who has known the prisoner for a long time, with ties to the community and a good personal and financial background.   The person must assure the prisoner will  return for future court dates and will abide by the court's rules and restrictions while on release.  In this case, there is bail money held in reserve.  If the defendant, Larry, fails to show up for court, the person who signed the bond will have to pay all that money.  For most families, that means they will lose their home or life savings if their loved one skips out on court.  While on pretrial release, typical restrictions on federal computer crime defendants are: no computer usage, stay with family, remain in the specified states, get any needed medical care,  do not commit any crimes, and register with a pretrial services office.

Then, there is also a matter of money.   The prisoner or his loved ones must pay for their own transportation home.  Plane tickets on short notice at Christmas time are hard to find and very expensive.  Somewhere along the trip, the prisoner has had all his clothes and belongings taken from him.  Mami put in countless hours and lots of money to make these arrangements for Larry.  It was much more work for her than can be described here, an enormous undertaking.   Larry's federal defender in New Jersey worked hard to secure Larry's release, get him appropriate clothing, and drove him to the airport and got him on the plane.  

Once Ag3nt47's plane arrives in California, he is going to need sleep, a decent meal, medical care, and a new way to entertain himself, since he cannot be on the computer.

It has been a great experience working with the #Op47Home team. As a team working on this, I'd say we each gave our 100% effort and each had complementary skills.  We're real happy to get Larry home to his family in time for Christmas.

What's Next: The Feds can either drop the case, which seems logical under the circumstances, or they can come up with an indictment.  If Larry is indicted, he will have to show up in New Jersey for some important court dates.

David Coombs speaks re Pvt Manning - CA and WA

Public presentations by attorney David Coombs

coombsDavid Coombs, attorney for American prisoner of conscience US Army Pvt. Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, will speak at three upcoming West Coast events hosted by the Private Manning Support Network. Mr. Coombs continues to represent the heroic WikiLeaks whistle-blower recently sentenced to 35-years in military prison.

Sunday, Dec. 8 at 7:00pm -- Los Angeles CA
The Church in Ocean Park, 235 Hill Street, Santa Monica CA 90405 - View flyer (pdf)

Monday, Dec. 9 at 6:30pm -- Oakland CA
Humanist Hall, 390 27th Street, Oakland CA 94612 - View flyer (pdf)

Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 7:00pm -- Seattle WA
University Temple United Methodist Church (Fireplace Room), 1415 NE 43rd St., Seattle WA 98105 - View flyer (pdf)

Events will include Q&A with Mr. Coombs, and a fund pitch by the Support Network to benefit Pvt. Manning's ongoing defense efforts, including pending legal appeals.
Events are presented by the Private Manning Support Network and Courage to Resist, with the help of Veterans for Peace, CODEPINK, Bay Area Military Law Panel, War Resisters League-West, Project Censored and the Media Freedom Foundation, SF Women in Black, World Can't Wait-SF Bay, OccupySF Action Council & Environmental Justice Working Group, OccupyForum, SF LGBT Pride Celebration Committee, Queer Strike, National Lawyers Guild-SF, and the Civilian-Soldier Alliance, MLK Coalition of Greater Los Angeles, Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, Progressive Democrats of Santa Monica Mountains, March Forward, The ANSWER Coalition, Common Good Café, G.I. Voice / Coffee Strong, Peace Action Group of Plymouth Church UCC, Fellowship of Reconciliation-Seattle Chapter

$5-$10 donation requested at the door to cover event expenses. Wheelchair accessible. For more info, contact: Courage to Resist, 510-488-3559.

Help us continue to cover 100%
of Pvt. Manning's legal fees! Donate today.